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Prisoners' tale: I was held 21 days before my wedding
Onkar Singh in Amritsar | September 13, 2005 00:33 IST
Tears flowed across the cheeks of Radhey Shyam, lone Indian prisoner from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and members of his family when they met around 4 pm after a long wait.
A few meters away, Kuldeep Singh from Nakodar in Jallandhar district of Punjab was having an emotional reunion with his aged father and mother who had reached the Wagah checkpost very early in the morning.
While Radhey Shyam crossed over into Pakistani territory by mistake in the Jammu division and was held captive by the Pakistani rangers, Kuldeep had fallen prey to the greed of some of the travel agents who promised him a job in Greece.
43-year-old Radhey Shyam hopes to pick up the threads of his life and start over again. "I have lost seven years in Pakistani jails. Sab Kuch Lut Gaya hai. Phir se shuru karna hoga," ( Everything is lost. I will have to start over again.) he told rediff.com as his relatives raised the slogan of Jai Mata Ki to give him much needed morale support.
Kuldeep on the other hand preferred to stay away from the media and chose not to speak. "Nahin ma… yeh bag mujhe hi uthane do," (Mother let me pick up the bag. You are too old for this) he said as he embraced his mother and father and wept.
At one stage, the father had almost collapsed as the formalities for the release were taking time and he couldn't wait any longer to see his son.
Out of the 435 Indian prisoners released 371 were fishermen, mostly from Kerala. They were the last to be brought across the border and handed over to the Indian authorities.
The work of handing over of prisoners was suspended for an hour to see off politicians from India and Pakistan as their presence was hampering work. Navjot Singh Sidhu, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament from Amritsar, and Pakistani federal minister for interior affairs Wasim Sajjad had come to the border to see off and receive those first released from either side.
Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit Singh-- who is awaiting death sentence in Kotlakhpat Jail in Pakistan-- had turned up at the border but was not allowed to go in. She along with the families of the Prisoners of War of 1971 had to remain 500 meters away from the border.
There were others who had come with the photographs of their near and dear ones to find out from the released prisoners if they had seen any of them in Pakistani jails.
The media was looking for a prisoner who had spoken to Sarabjit Singh in last one or two months. But they were disappointed.
Mohammad Babur, a Pakistan-based businessman from Karachi said, "Fifteen years ago I had come to India from Rajasthan with another man. I thought I would buy some beautiful gifts for my wife from Jaipur but I was arrested 21 days before my wedding. It took me 15 years to establish my identity and today I am happy to go back to my land."
Nasin Khan, 34 who is a resident of Karachi crossed over into India from Bangladesh. "My mother is a Bangladeshi and my father is a Pathan. I was caught in Rajouri sector and kept there in Dangri jail. Please don't make me uncomfortable by asking me questions," he pleaded.
Mohammad Ali, 45, his wife, two sons and one daughter spent 5 years in Presidency Jail in Kolkatta for not possessing legal travel documents. "Five days before we were due to return to Pakistan, some policemen took away our passports and sent us to jail. "We are delighted to return to our homes," he said.